Best Camera Settings for Car Photography

best camera settings for car photography

Lots of people find themselves wanting to take photos of their cars. Whether it’s a parked or moving car, your favorite racing event, or just a scenic drive in the countryside, you’ll want to have a camera handy to capture those moments. The question is, which settings are best for taking pictures of cars?

No matter if you’re just a car enthusiast or a professional car photographer, with all the distractions and reflections, it can be tough to get good shots no matter what camera you’re using. The key is to use the best camera settings for car photography.

This article will tell you the top settings you should use in automotive photography. After that, It’ll go through the basics of car photography tips by giving you some background and an overview of the best camera settings for car photography. After reading this article, you’ll know what to expect and be ready to take your car pictures as soon as possible!

Manual Mode Vs. Auto Mode in Camera  

If you’re new to photography, you may not know the difference between Manual Mode and Auto mode on your camera.


Manual Mode:

In this mode, the camera is entirely operated by you and requires no interaction from the camera itself. This provides more control to photographers over how the photo turns out.

You can manually control the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO in manual mode using the settings on your camera. As a result, all three of these elements affect how your photos appear – and sometimes even their quality.

Auto Mode:

In this mode, the camera does all the work for you and does not require any interaction from the photographer. This may be preferable for new photographers who just want to take quick pictures without much thought to what they’re doing.

Most of the time, the photos turn out exactly how you want them to but going into photography, you can’t always shoot in automatic mode and need to become more sophisticated.

You should use manual mode if you’re shooting cars. This allows you to set up your camera so that it’s optimized for taking photos of cars. If you don’t know how to use it, there are plenty of resources online, like this one, that will help you learn the best camera settings for car photography.

Best Camera Settings for Car Photography

The best camera settings for car photography are what you’re looking for. There are many different combinations of these settings. The ideal setting for one may not be the best for another, but from experience, we’ve found that these basics come close to being the same across all cameras.

  • A wide aperture of f/2.8 – f/5 will blur the background
  • You should narrow your aperture to f/8 or higher to keep the car and background in focus
  • Set ISO 100
  • 1/60 or faster is the shutter speed you should use
  • When shooting in RAW, choose auto white balance. You can always change it later.

Let’s first break it down into two main categories: parked and driving, or as we would put it in automotive photography jargon: static and in motion.


You’d be shooting if you took pictures of a car in a garage or parked across the street. The first thing to consider when photographing a static car is the depth of field.

Would you prefer a shallower depth-of-field (f/4 or lower) to make the car the only sharp object in the picture, or would you like to include the background where the car is parked? You’ll need to set the aperture to f/8 or higher if you also want the background.

You’ll need a wide-angle lens or standing a reasonable distance away from the car to capture the entire car since a vehicle is much longer and broader than, say, a person. Since the depth of field is a fundamental principle of photography, even if you shoot at an f/2.8, it will automatically deepen as the distance between the subject and photographer increases.

So unless you focus on one particular detail of the car in your shot, you will probably include the background in your image. Simply decide if it’s an essential part of your story and if your settings should consist of it as much as the car.

The camera should be set to a low ISO and a faster shutter speed to ensure sharpness and detail. By using a wider aperture, you can compensate for the slight loss of a fast shutter.

You may want to use a shallower depth of field (f/2.8 or lower) if you are only interested in one particular detail of the car. By limiting your focus zone, you can give your picture that creamy, optically pleasing blur you are so familiar with in portraits.

In Motion

This is when you’re taking pictures of a moving car. Whether you’re going on an adventure with your car, or photographing the more active side of your car’s personality, like when you bust out some wheelies.

Shutter speed should be faster, such as 1/125 or up, depending on the light conditions. In bright daylight, increase the camera’s shutter speed to provide more detailed images and reduce motion blur.

Also, follow the vehicle’s motion by panning the camera from side to side. By adjusting the shutter speed fast enough, you can compensate for the movement of your object and arms as you try to take the perfect shot of the moving car.

Panning is a technique that will take a little practice, but it will be well worth the effort. To help you in the process, consider investing in a monopod. You can lock the camera into a fluid head and follow motion or action with ease by using the arm connected to the camera.

3 Important Camera Settings

Before getting into the best camera settings for car photography, it’s essential to understand some basics about the exposure triangle.

The “exposure triangle” comprises shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. These three settings are your photography controls for capturing light in different ways.  

best camera settings for car photography


The aperture setting represents how wide your lens is open. The lower the number, the more comprehensive the opening or aperture of your lens is. A larger aperture will allow more light in and provide a shallower field depth, which creates that nice background blur we love so much. A wide aperture of f/2.8 – f/5 will be the most suitable in this case.


The ISO is how sensitive the camera is to light. As a result, raising the ISO will make the photos brighter and more true to life. Lowering the ISO or increasing the shutter speed will also cause your pictures to appear more radiant. It would be best to keep the ISO at the lowest, which is ISO 100 in most cameras.

Shutter Speed

This setting represents how long you are exposing your car photos. The lower this setting, such as at 1/60 of a second or faster, means that your picture will be ready quicker, and you will get more done in less time – this is especially important if you have several cars or action shots to shoot at different times of the day.


What does high ISO do to a picture?

High ISO indicates a camera’s ability to produce as much light as possible. The higher the number, the more sensitive the camera is to light. When using a high ISO, you are increasing the sensitivity, which creates more accurate color and more subtle noise in your shots. Higher ISO produces sharper, less grainy images without blowouts and lens flares due to brighter lights.

What is the best focal length for car photography?

When it comes to focal length, the rule of thumb is this – get tight. The wider your angle, the more you can capture the car and surrounding environment. The 24-70 mm focal length is ideal for car photography. These shots can range from very tight in the engine bay to a more panoramic image of a car in its entirety.

Is 800 ISO too high?

If you are shooting in daylight, then 800 ISO is too high. It’s high enough to get grainy images and to make them over-exposed. If you’re shooting in the dark and need a higher ISO for shutter speed, then that’s fine. The digital sensors on modern cameras can produce excellent results with higher ISOs in low light conditions, and due to technological advancements, it should not be an issue.

What aperture is best for car photography?

A car is a vast subject, and a narrow aperture of f/8 or above is recommended. This will help you keep the background out of focus if you want it. You may need to set your camera’s aperture at f/5 or below if you’re going to blur the background of your car photos.